Innovative technologies for seed multiplication, increased farmer involvement in varietal selection processes, and information and training about efficient farm management practices have raised incomes as well as awareness of farmers in a rural region in Tanzania.
A partnership between the ICRISAT-led Tropical Legumes Project and the Agricultural Seed Agency (ASA) in Tanzania was facilitated by the Naliendele Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) in 2007, with one of the goals being to enhance groundnut productivity and production in Tanzania. As a result of this outstanding partnership, numerous farmers’ lives have changed for the better in Mnanje B Village in Nanyumbu District, Tanzania, under the ‘Naliende Crop Improvement Program’.
Earlier, it was very difficult for the farmers in the region to access early generation seeds, especially of self-pollinated legume crops. Seed companies also avoided investing in these crops because of poor rates of seed replacement by farmers. Under the program, the ASA produced and promoted the ‘orphan’ crop seeds, with a long-term goal of making the seeds available to all farmers across Tanzania.
In 2007, the second phase of the Tropical Legumes project (TL II) capitalized on the ongoing partnership between the villagers and the NARI. NARI had earlier introduced participatory varietal selection (PVS) in the region and the villagers benefited immensely due to it.
TL II enabled the farmers further by engaging them in deeper discussions about their preference of groundnut varieties and supplied them with the ones that were most suited to and most desired by the farmers. The program has excellent irrigation facilities installed under TL II, making it possible to have multiple production cycles per year. Adoption of improved varieties, together with integrated crop management practices, has contributed to increased groundnut productivity.
Farmer Pesa of Mnanje village was unemployed and poor, until the program trained him on groundnut seed production techniques. Today, he is a wealthy groundnut farmer who also owns livestock and multiple rental properties.
Farmer Helena Petro outlines education and awareness creation as the major non-commercial benefits of participating in PVS trials. Participating farmers get to try new better varieties before others and often are the first to receive the seed and replace the old, poor-yielding varieties. Today, the farmers’ group produces up to 25 t/season of Quality Declared Seed of the high-yielding varieties and Naliendele buys it from them at good rates for supplying to other, more remote regions.
The program has introduced a groundnut school garden program in Mnanje Primary School, wherein schoolchildren are taught the basics of groundnut crop production and they apply the knowledge in their parents’ home-gardens. The school receives groundnut seeds from Naliendele and uses the grain for food and for income. In a recent competition among schools, Mnanje was topmost groundnut producer in the district.
Mr Adam Abdnilahi Nyirenda from Maugula village in Masasi district produces Nachingwea, Mangaka and Naliendele varieties released in 2009. He sells groundnut to buy inputs for cashew nuts; he no longer waits for subsidy. He appreciates varieties released in 2009 as high-yielding, disease-resistant, drought-tolerant, early-maturing and highly marketable. After appearing on radio and television to discuss the agronomic traits of the new varieties, Mr Nyirenda now receives calls and orders for seed from across the country, including the Lake Zone, more than 1500 km away. He has established a network of more than 20 individual farmers in the village; they produce QDS seeds and jointly sell to different groups within and outside the district. In the 2016/2017 season, Mr Nyirenda and his network produced six tons of the Nachingwea variety of groundnut.
Tropical Legumes and its partnership with ASA/NARI has played a significant role in making groundnut the second largest crop after maize on the basis of area, in Tanzania.